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657253 Posts in 9253 Topics by 3396 Members Latest Member: - vlozan86 Most online today: 70 - most online ever: 494 (Jul 01, 2007, 02:59:53 PM)
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Author Topic: Opera! (Not the Argento kind)  (Read 7946 times)
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Thermofusion
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« Reply #50 on: Aug 24, 2009, 07:28:23 PM »

McCabe: for Chrissakes, absolutely go see Elektra

Also, I have to put in a good word for this filmed version of Salome, released theatrically in Germany in the 70s and famous/notorious for Teresa Stratas' complete embodiment (in the most literal fashion...she gets quite naked) of the titular role. The production is very "filmic", much in the the mold of that trendy cinematic way they used to film opera back in the 70s and early 80s. It's the perfect representation of Strauss' best opera (IMO).
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mountmccabe
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« Reply #51 on: Aug 24, 2009, 10:27:40 PM »

I just looked it up and I messed it up.  They're doing Salome, not the other.

I still really wanna go; that part I got right.
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ellaguru
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« Reply #52 on: Oct 21, 2009, 11:52:51 AM »

First of the season at the Canadian Opera Company was The Nightingale and Other stories, which wasn't really an opera. It was a puppet show set to some Stravinsky stuff. Some of it was pretty great, though. The first piece was the best, it was all done in shadow puppets, with a five person troupe at various distances from the lamp making shadow puppets of animals that were projected onto a big screen while some nice lady dressed like a Russian peasant sang a little song about the animals.

The second show's on Sunday. It's the requisite Madama Butterfly. I expect it probably won't be done with puppets, although last year's Met production of Butterfly actually was, although only for the nonsinging kid roles.
« Last Edit: Oct 21, 2009, 12:57:30 PM by ellaguru » Logged

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das kranke Tier
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« Reply #53 on: Oct 21, 2009, 12:13:58 PM »

I just looked it up and I messed it up.  They're doing Salome, not the other.

I still really wanna go; that part I got right.

GO!  DO IT!

I would love to see that!
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ellaguru
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« Reply #54 on: Feb 03, 2010, 10:45:57 AM »

Two operas this week. Saw Carmen, by B-to-the-Izet last Wednesday. It was the same production I saw them do maybe 8 or 9 years ago, or whenever they did it last. I recognized the stage for the final act. It was really good, except I thought Carmen herself was not vivacious enough. Ah, well. Still, that show has so many hit singles, it's just fun to see. I'm also going to see the Met simulcast Carmen next month, so I'll be able to do a compare & contrast.

Tonight it's Verdi's Otello, which I don't know that much about. I mean, I'm pretty solid on the plot, but I don't know the show.
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Thermofusion
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« Reply #55 on: Feb 03, 2010, 11:36:09 AM »

Hey, I've seen Otello twice! I think it's Verdi's best work as an orchestrator, texturally-speaking it's extremely well written. It's a moody thing compared to some of Verdi's earlier stuff. Your enjoyment of it will probably hinge on how good the Iago is, if he's really good, he'll steal the show.

I'd be seeing it a third time when Opera Carolina does it in May, but I'm gonna be taking in Hilary Hahn's Sibelius + a baseball game in Pittsburgh that weekend.
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ellaguru
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« Reply #56 on: Feb 03, 2010, 11:39:17 PM »

Yes, it was really good, and yes, Iago stole the show - the last act and maybe a half is pretty light on Iago, and was consequently less entertaining. Although second prize definitely goes to the chorus. Lots of times it seems like choral scenes are just there to show off how many people they can fit on the stage, but there was a lot of intricate interplay going on there.

The only downside was that Desdemona clearly never turned up for her Falling Down On The Floor Dramatically classes (which is so ridiculous, because -a- it's not that hard, and -b- pretty much every opera role ever demands a certain amount of Falling Down On The Floor Dramatically). She looked completely silly each time she had to Fall Down On The Floor Dramatically, which was probably at least six times in the show. But other than that, I was quite impressed.

I'm seeing the symphony do Verdi's Requiem in a couple weeks - now that's a metal piece of music - and that opening bit of the first act definitely sounded, even to my untrained ear, like it was written by the same guy.
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Thermofusion
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« Reply #57 on: Feb 04, 2010, 01:36:19 PM »

The only downside was that Desdemona clearly never turned up for her Falling Down On The Floor Dramatically classes (which is so ridiculous, because -a- it's not that hard, and -b- pretty much every opera role ever demands a certain amount of Falling Down On The Floor Dramatically). She looked completely silly each time she had to Fall Down On The Floor Dramatically, which was probably at least six times in the show. But other than that, I was quite impressed.

Man I know exactly what you're talking about. The Marriage of Figaro is a good example of this phenomenon, where there's a lot of physical comedy going on (jumping, falling, fist-fighting) and if it's not executed well or believably, it really hinders your enjoyment.
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ellaguru
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« Reply #58 on: Feb 17, 2011, 11:26:31 AM »

Well, without Thermo around, it looks like this will be the thread where I talk to myself.

However, I saw two operas in the last week or so. The Magic Flute last night was pretty good. The staging was sort of interesting - the first act was done fake and cheesy, with a little, ancient looking stage-within-the-stage where the action tool place, with other folks sitting around the stage watching. And then the second act was set in "reality" or whatever, with lush and expensive sets. I guess this was to make the effect of going into the magic bit more impressive, like The Wizard of Oz going into colour or something. It was kind of neat and the singing was fun.

Nixon in China last week was very impressive, though. Contemporary (obviously) work by John Adams with music that sounded a lot like the soundtrack to any Peter Greenaway film, but with better singing. Mao's wife was pretty cool.
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mountmccabe
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« Reply #59 on: Feb 17, 2011, 01:44:00 PM »

I went to the movie theater to see the stream of the Met's Nixon but it was sold out! I was flabbergasted. And crestfallen.

I rather love that opera but I've never seen it, visually.

I need to figure out if this is common around here for those broadcasts and/or what crazy things I need to do to get advance tickets.
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ellaguru
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« Reply #60 on: Feb 17, 2011, 01:48:54 PM »

I found here that the first-run simulcasts were generally full/sold out, but that the encore presentations (which are generally a month or two later) were only about half full.
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ellaguru
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« Reply #61 on: Feb 17, 2011, 01:51:57 PM »

So, yeah, the encore should be next month looks like.
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clare
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« Reply #62 on: Feb 18, 2011, 06:25:05 AM »

John Adams is great. My intro to him was singing some choruses from The Death of Klinghoffer at a choral festival. It's not easy.
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mountmccabe
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« Reply #63 on: Nov 26, 2011, 11:00:47 AM »

So, yeah, the encore should be next month looks like.

Late response: I caught this! It was great! The Chiang Ch'ing was fantastic. I hope they release this on DVD so that I may purchase it.

Thread being bumped because I am getting ready to go see Philip Glass' Satyagraha at the Met. I got on the wait list of the weekend rush tickets but still got in. I am going to enter this drawing for nearly every weekend of every season that I'm in NYC.
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mountmccabe
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« Reply #64 on: Nov 28, 2011, 09:02:16 PM »

I enjoyed Satyagraha so much. Giant puppets! Fire! A libretto in Sanskrit!

The final act moved a little slow and was less spectacular but that's mostly because the other two acts were so stellar. The first act had giant puppets slowly built on stage. And then they fight while Krishna sings, in what was my favorite vocal performance of the afternoon.

The text was adapted from the Bhagavad Gita rather than being dialogue or whatnot. The action was scenes from Ghandi's time in South Africa and often involved a stage full of people, moving slowly, repetitively to create or build to something. In this way it worked much like the music.

It was a very odd opera but it worked; I like the music and the action on stage was generally entrancing and at times stunning. Due to the near complete seperation of the music from the action, though, if there wasn't much going on stage - such as during Ghandi's final prayer - you start wondering how many more times he'll sing that same phrase in that same scale (the answer is 30 total.)

The seats I got through the lottery were fine, in the orchestra section but near the back corner under the first of the balconies. The sound seemed fine and we could see the main part of the stage, just not the right wall from whence people of the company would emerge (but generally they would also be emerging from left side as well and we had a great view of that.)

You can see production photos from an earlier performance.


This week I put in for the La Boheme on Friday night and a new production of Faust (co-production with ENO; they premiered it last season) on Saturday night. I really want to see this Faust.
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mountmccabe
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« Reply #65 on: Jan 03, 2012, 11:53:32 AM »

I have not won any Met opera lottery tickets since Satyagraha so because I had yesterday off and they had a show I went by yesterday afternoon for the weekday rush and got in.

This was the Met's repertory production of La fille du regiment. The signing was absolutely lovely, and that is what this opera is for. The plot is actually as unencumbered as its Wikipedia summary and there are no real surprises, keeping in mind that this is a comic opera not a tragic one.

Nino Machaidze in the title role worked through the vocal acrobatics impressively, covered the necessary emotional range and hammed it up appropriately - this is physical comedy a la Three Stooges, not anything more - but I think I liked Lawrence Brownlee more as Tonio; he was slightly underpowered but sounded lovely.

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa appeared in the cameo role of the Duchess (Bea Arthur has taken this role at the Met) and sang a bit much to the delight of the audience.

My problem, though, was with the production. Somehow this production - which debuted at the Met in 2008 and was a co-production with ROH and Wiener Staatsoper - is set during the first World War. Tyrol was indeed invaded during that war but by the Austrians and then the Italians, not the French. The opera has been frequently presented in Italian (switching around a few things) and that would have fit but here they sung the original French.

Even beyond the historical anamolies setting the action during the first World War seemed to not affect anything. It allowed Kiri Te Kanawa to complain about almost getting mud on her shoes when getting out of her Bently and allowed the regiment to come in riding a tank in Act 2 and, well, military uniforms circa 1915 rather than circa 1800 but they were relatively bland anyway.

The production also included giant postcard-looking items that occasionally descended into the background. It almost seems as if someone said, hey, we have all this space and nothing going on there, let's fill it with something and didn't bother to put anything into making those images clear or related.

I don't love comic operas and I generally prefer other styles than bel canto but it is a nice change to see such a piece that is light and enjoyable.
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mountmccabe
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« Reply #66 on: Jan 03, 2012, 12:11:22 PM »

#firstworldproblems: Just checked and I straight won my first Met lottery... to see La fille again on Friday. When I entered it had not even occurred to me that I'd be able to go last night.
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ellaguru
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« Reply #67 on: Jan 03, 2012, 05:42:30 PM »

I like La fille du regiment, but yeah it's pretty slight. Way to win the lottery, though.
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mountmccabe
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« Reply #68 on: Mar 14, 2012, 11:25:37 AM »

Khovanshchina at the Met, March 13, 2012
By Modest Mussorgsky, in the Shostakovich orchestration with Stravinsky's final scene.
Original production by August Everding, choreography by Benjamin Millepied.


First off, Anatoli Kotscherga as Ivan was amazing; his singing was clear and powerful. His acting was also very good and he came off as an imposing figure, right up until he turns his back on the streltsy and collapses in on himself.

Interstingly the performance of this I know best is with Kotscherga as a strong, snarling Dosifei that came off as almost sadistic. The Dosifei in this run at the Met, Ildar Abdrazakov comes off as benevolent, as a calming force.

I have always taken the broad strokes of this opera to be about groups of Old Russia in conflict with each other; the drunk louts of the Stretsly, the ascetic Old Believers and the scheming aristocracy, and that if these could only get along with each other they could keep their traditions alive. This production seemed to highlight more internal conflicts as well, between people otherwise allied.

Son opposes father, the streltsy fight amongst themselves and with their wives, the Princes squabble with each other and the Old Believers bicker amongst themselves. Things only truly seem dire for the streltsy when Ivan Khovansky, their leader, turns his back on them. These are in (most) every performance of this opera but I saw them as having an extra resonance in this production. [It is also the first time I realized that Ivan Khovansky was an Old Believer, too (though I suppose it is possible that this is not actually standard.)]

Dosifei keeps coming in and peacefully defusing situations. In the Vienna State Opera production where his entrance to save Emma from Ivan and Andrei is an event; in this Met production he just slips in, without fanfare. Without his cruelty he comes off as the horse to back... until he decides - though Marfa brings it up first - that they should immolate themselves.

The use of Stravinsky's orchestration of the final scene works very well with this production, with the Old Believers singing their hymns to mother Russia, releasing themselves to god as their home burns around them is haunting.

This is not a simple, good versus evil work but I think it is clear - especially in this production - that the message is that the old guard fell due to their own internal squabbling and inconsistencies and that in this much was lost.


I don't know much about ballet but the dance of the Persian slaves had too much shrugging (I almost want to directly invoke Bill T Jones and/or Thriller's zombies but that may be going too far) and too little dancing. It eventually got the point where Ivan Khovansky was gradually drawn in, titillated.

In the distracting mistakes in historical details department the Old Believers didn't have Old Believer crosses and Dosifei, at least, made the sign of the cross using his thumb rather than the two finger method of the actual Old Believers (many people crossed themselves many times but from my seat in the rear orchestra I could only see how many fingers they used when I borrowed binoculars. Which, I guess, means I worked at distracting myself (but, again, I was only questioning it because they had the crosses wrong.))

The main reason I was set on seeing this opera live was the deep, strong score and the Met Opera Orchestra, led by Kirill Petrenko sounded wonderful all night; I love the strings in Ivan's theme, the brass sounded bright and clear in fanfares announcing those working for the Romanovs.

I was largely unimpressed by Olga Borodina's Marfa, though she sang her scene 3 "A maiden wandered" with real emotion. I rather disliked the Andrei, Misha Didyk, his short, sharp, singing and agitated overacting didn't seem to fit with the calm, peaceful approach to the opera.
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Adro
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« Reply #69 on: Mar 26, 2012, 12:28:20 AM »

Ingmar Bergmans version of Mozart's The magic Flute is one of my favorites to watch. I'd love to see it performed in person, one day.  This is a really cute part of it.... cause they're ripping each others clothes off.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17fGOC0IC9I

 Heart

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mountmccabe
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« Reply #70 on: Aug 25, 2012, 10:26:53 PM »

I was at Lincoln Center this evening, in front of the Met watching the first of their (free) Summer HD Festival performances, The Enchanted Island. This Baroque pastiche debuted last year and got generally poor reviews but I wanted to see it anyway. I am glad I didn't sit in the house for this but oh my was this mess bad. Or at least the first two-thirds of it because I got sick of it even though it had gotten dark and cool with a lovely breeze.

The libretto (after The Tempest and A Midsummer Night's Dream) was awful, both when looked at as song lyrics and when seeing the story as a whole. An example:

My strength is coming back to me
I feel it grow unstoppably
I feel it deep inside of me
Like thunder underground

I feel it in the heart of me,
a rushing gushing part of me
like thunder underground

Joyce DiDonato was great as Sycorax, but she had to sing the above. Placido Domingo's voice was impressive but his English diction was awful and his short bit in the first act was one of the winky-wink meta-est bits (of which there were many) so it was hard to stay involved.

Absolutely bizarrely, though, Caliban is in corpsepaint and mostly sings about blood, terror and rage.



Edit: watch it on YouTube! Act 1, Act 2 (in English, with French (?) subtitles)
« Last Edit: Aug 25, 2012, 11:03:30 PM by mountmccabe » Logged

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